For many seniors living in Nashville the thought of their first car comes with the idea of independence and the joy of getting to explore. Not only has a car served as a means of transportation, but also a means of connection. Traveling by car provided a way to see loved ones, a way to enjoy a vacation, or a bonding road-trip experience with fellow passengers. Given this positive sentiment firmly imprinted, it’s not shocking that seniors may have negative or fearful feelings around considering giving up their car.
How am I going to get my groceries? I won’t be able to see my family. What if there’s an emergency in the middle of the night?
While discontinuing driving can be a change, it does not have to mean a complete change in lifestyle. There are many accessible and affordable transportation options specifically for seniors. From volunteer networks and non-profit organizations, to ride-hail platforms and Nashville’s public transportation system, there’s always a way to get to where you need to go. Let’s look at five options for getting around Nashville without a car.
Nashville’s WeGo Public Transit network includes buses, and paratransit which serve the greater Nashville area. With frequent departures and arrivals, and a scattering of bus stations, this can be a convenient and reliable option in and around the main roads and closer to the city center. Public transit is one of the most affordable options as seniors are provided a discount with a 2-hour local pass costing $1 and $2 for a one way regional service ride. Multi-day or month passes offer even more savings.
For those with disabilities, the city of Nashville offers paratransit service which comes directly to seniors’ houses. Reservations must be made at least one day in advance and the cost is $3.70. For on demand service, Nashville offers a taxi-like service which can be scheduled 2 hours in advance and costs $7 for trips 14 miles and less, with an additional $1 for every mile over 14.
Volunteer Networks & Non-Profit Organizations
With the increase in demand for seniors needing rides, volunteer networks and non-profits have formed to provide help. These organizations operate via a combination of donations, private funding, and rider payment. That being said, the rider’s portion is usually very affordable, costing far less than a private ride service. Here are a few leading organizations:
Senior Ride Nashville
In a joint effort between AgeWell Middle Tennessee and the Senior Transportation Leadership Coalition, Senior Ride Nashville was born. The membership-based service offers affordable rides to those 60+ who reside in Davidson County and are able to get in and out of a vehicle without assistance. The annual membership fee is $25 with each round trip fixed at $6. Reservations must be made 7 days in advance.
A volunteer network of drivers work on behalf of the Wilson Rides non-profit organization to provide affordable rides to residents of Wilson County (who are 55+ and able to get in and out of vehicles independently). Using a similar model to Senior Ride Nashville, seniors must become members for $25 a year and pay $6 per round trip.
Community Life Rides
Residents of Hendersonville and Gallatin who are over 60 can request rides through a membership program. The cost of service was not provided but more information can be found by calling the number or using the form on the Community Life Rides Website
Ride-Hailing & Taxi Services
With ride hailing or taxis you get true on demand service directly to your home and anywhere you need to go. The cost of this convenience to go wherever, whenever is higher prices, though for infrequent trips, or off hour needs, taxi companies, or ride-hailing apps like Uber, or Lyft can be the perfect solution.
Non-Emergency Medical Transportation
For those who don’t meet the criteria of being able to walk on their own, and aren’t in need of medical transportation, Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) can help. Working directly with Medicaid, seniors needing to go to doctor, dentist appointments and other health visits can get transportation at little or no cost.
LiveWell by Blakeford
As a leading non-profit provider of quality senior lifestyle solutions in Nashville, Blakeford’s LiveWell is a lifetime care membership program empowering seniors to age in place. Among an extensive list of services to seniors 60 years and older, is transportation to essential services, such as medical appointments, grocery shopping, and more.